In the Chrysalis

There is nothing in nature that compares to the transformation of a butterfly. It is magical to think of that which was once confined to crawling on branches and ground now soaring through the air on delicate wings. 

All it takes is a little time in the chrysalis. 


I imagined the chrysalis to be a period of waiting. Knowing the caterpillar spends the entire beginning of its life struggling to eat enough, then the next part of its life furiously working to create space for transformation, I thought, perhaps, the chrysalis provided some respite. As if the butterfly wings poked their way through the caterpillar's skin while it was sleeping, making themselves ready to be stretched and exposed to the breeze once the caterillar awoke.

That's not really true. I don't think I ever believed it was quite that easy. But in the mystery of not seeing and not knowing, I did make an assumption. I figured the process was a lot of work, but not all that much pain.


Christians like to talk about transformation a lot. We are made into the image of Christ! We are changed! We are new creations! 

We tend to make a few mistakes in the ways we talk about this change.

The first is to speak as if there is only one metamorphasis: the transformation when we make a decision to believe in Christ and our lives are forever altered.  

Though this is true, that moment is one of many. Christ invites us not only into a transformed life, but a life of transformation.  

The second is to talk about the end product of metamorphasis without acknowledging the process. 

The caterpillar does not one day eat a magic leaf and suddenly become a butterfly. Transformation takes time in the chrysalis. 


If you were to crack open a chrysalis before a butterfly was ready to emerge, there is a good chance goop would ooze out from within.

In order to be transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillar has to digest itself.

Let that sink in. 

The only thing that lasts through that process are a few groups of cells called imaginal discs. The caterpillar was born with these discs, which carry the pattern for future eyes, wings, and legs within them. Imaginal discs then feed on the goop that once was the caterpillar in order to grow into butterfly parts they were designed to become.

In the chrysalis, there is not just waiting. There is death. 


Last spring, I marked the back of my neck with a tatoo of flying butterflies. I've always loved their symbolism, and I wanted to remember all the ways I'm a different person now than I once was.

The tattoo came near the end of a difficult season. I think in some ways, I was hoping it would help me fly away and be done with the struggle.

But now, I am back in the chrysalis. I am in a space where I can see new ways I have to die in order for more butterfly wings to grow.  

It hurts. But it is the food for what I was designed to become. 


In Greek, the word for soul is the word for butterfly.  

Our souls are transformed in the chrysalis.


When God gives me an anthem

  Sometimes, getting a song stuck in your head is annoying. Other times, it is a gift.


As I look back on my years walking with God, He has often given me that gift. At key times of dependence on Him, times filled with uncertainty or pain or frustrations, a song has risen to the surface. A song that has just the right lyrics for me.


This song then plays on repeat in my heart. It is a reminder of what is important and why, and what the focus of my attention should really be.


The song becomes my prayer.


Right now, I am in a time of transition. Again. The questions of what this next season will bring overwhelm me at times. I wonder if I can do this new thing. I wonder what others are thinking of me. I wonder how everything will pan out.


I wonder about a lot. I am anxious about a lot.


light glorious lightBut in the midst of this time, while I was on a run, God gave me a new song. It is a song that I knew, but it became new.


The song “Oh How I Need You” by All Sons and Daughters has become my new song. Since that run, I have listened to it every day, and sang it in my heart on repeat. It is my anthem. It is my prayer.


The bridge, especially, turns my soul towards what is true. The words lead my wonderings in the right direction- towards the God who will lead me.


Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: SONG. (Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to find and create a graphic to go with it. I think that's still okay according to the rules...)

Wonder: on Advent and transitions

I'm not sure how Sarah Koci Scheilz and I first connected online, but I am glad we did. She writes about living life with intention and is an encouraging voice in my world. I hope you enjoy her post today.

I need more fingers to count the number of my dear friends who have recently-born babies, who are pregnant, who are hoping to become so. Some friends are on Baby #2, or even Baby #3.

Yes, I've done my fair share of babysitting, and yes, I'll tiptoe quietly into Baby Gap every once in a while to creep on the cute bebes of other women. But me? A mom? Not now, not for awhile.

Round bellies overwhelm me.

The idea of pregnancy, the idea of a life entrusted to my care . . . it’s just so much. Maybe because it overwhelms me so, I have a heart to love all these pregnant and recently pregnant moms and dads well. I yearn to cook for these families, to babysit for their kiddos, to clean, to serve. That's what having a baby should look like in a solid community. Mommies and daddies shouldn't have to go it alone.

In light of all of this, the pregnancy aspect of the Advent story strikes me as particularly profound. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary learns from an angel that she will bear a child, and will call him Jesus. It's the virgin conception.

Joy to the World, the song goes. This world-changing, grace-pouring, life-delivering Savior was brought into the world, and for that we’re just humbled to joy. He was brought into the world, though, through pregnancy. Humble yet dramatic pregnancy.

Carrying a baby is overwhelming enough. Carrying the savior of the world? Awe-inspiring.

Greater still, this birth took place out of community. Mary is due to give birth and yet she and Joseph must head from their home in Nazareth to Joseph's ancestral home, Bethlehem, to register in a census.

This transition Mary and Joseph faced . . . it’s difficult to foster joy in an atmosphere of change. Not only were they responsible for delivering and raising Jesus, they did it alone. They found themselves in Bethlehem on the eve of Jesus's birth. How alone they must have felt.

That lonely feeling has hit me frequently this season. I've moved several times in the past few years. In mid-September, I moved again, from Indiana to Kansas City.

With each move, I've left behind friends, neighbors, homes, churches, volunteer commitments, jobs, restaurants and bars and shops and running trails and parks . . . the list goes on. Even though I know I'll find new and fantastic people and places, and even though I've been excited about what is to come, my heart has still ached with uncertainty and anxiety. This move was no different.

Back to Mary and Joseph. Transition was tough for just me and my husband, no baby in the mix. The birth of a baby, one could argue, is quite the life transition. And doing it in the midst of an unfamiliar place, without community? That, one could also argue, requires quite the courage.

What a striking aspect of our King: He was born into the roughest of circumstances. "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed," is a familiar Christmas song refrain. The song doesn't mention what Mary or Joseph had -- or didn't have -- for a bed. They had few rallying around them, but much God-given courage within them.

And faith, too. Mary and Joseph must have harbored rich faith. The Bible doesn't say much about where Mary's heart was, or how anxious Joseph felt. Baby Jesus was born. This could only be a result of great faith in the middle of a chasm of community.

Anxiety arises amidst challenge, certainly. I still feel new, both socially and professionally. In this new environment, daily life itself reminds me I'm not quite as in my element as I'd like to be.

But here's the beautiful truth: Advent celebrates just that. Advent celebrates that even when we couldn't be more out of our element, Christ was born as a sweet, tiny baby to save us of our sins. He, and the saving grace he generously pours . . . this is a constant, a truth we can stand on in the face of change. No matter what, we have our Heavenly Savior.  Joy to the world indeed.


About Today's Guest Blogger: Sarah Koci Scheilz

This time of year, Sarah's listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack on repeat. She’s a young professional in the communications, writing and nonprofit fields and can’t get enough of it. Sarah appreciates a good cardigan, cherishes a great cup of coffee and gets a kick out of community and creativity. Connect with her on her blog, Inspiration-Driven Life, at Facebook, and on Twitter @SarahKoci.


Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.